Chapter 23 Every career move has its risks

第二十三章 每次的職涯抉擇都有風險

23. Every career move has its risks

By twelve, I had figured out how I was going to escape the drudgery of industrial work as a career – or work in general, for that matter. I was going to be a rock-and-roll star. My poor qualities of talent and musicality did not seem to be major challenges: maturity, however, affords us a totally different perspective, doesn’t it? Music was the rage.

It dominated the youthful society of the time in a way that social media does today. At the top of this social hierarchy were the musicians. God took lessons from them, obviously. When John Lennon said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock-and-roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me,”1 he may have provoked outrage – but he wasn’t far off for the times.

The music business is very fickle. Though our group practiced and practiced, and had legions of fans – bear in mind that our village totaled 1200 people (or souls to quote Gogol) – we didn’t get the notoriety that we deserved. “The current generation now sees everything clearly, it marvels at the errors, it laughs at the folly of its ancestors, not seeing that this chronicle is all over scored by divine fire, that every letter of it cries out, that from everywhere the piercing finger is pointed at it, at this current generation; but the current generation laughs and presumptuously, proudly begins a series of new errors, at which their descendants will also laugh afterwards.”2 Then we got our big break. We were “invited” to perform in a talent contest. I remember that we were flawless: we sang “Hey Jude”3 by the Beatles. I did the screeching – quite well, if I may add. For our efforts, we received third prize – third prize! Well, it wasn’t second or first prize, but we still basked in the glow of success. Did I mention that there were four acts in the show?

We were “on a roll.” We waited for an agent and a recording contract: none was forthcoming. Now, the lead singer and overall superstar was a man by the name of Hume Bedford. He was blond (of course), good looking and had “a voice like velvet,” as the idiom goes. If anyone had a future in music, it was he: the hand of God was but a grasp away. To further our chances, he decided that our foursome – now twosome – had to move to a larger enclave: a larger town.

I grew up in the environs of Canada’s wilderness. The next town was some three and a half hours away by car, or bus, in our case. This necessitated quitting school and moving: relatively simple and exciting concepts to a sixteen-year-old. I went home and told my mother. I will always retain the conversation: “Mom, I’m quitting school!” “You are what?” “I am quitting school. Hume and I are moving to Port Clements to continue our careers in music.” There was a dark silence that lingered far longer than is natural. Then, rather violently I felt, my mother began to scream – scream! Out of her mouth came unintelligible words in some Slavic language: my mother had Eastern European blood. When she settled back to her normal level of tranquility – my mather was a very lovely, peaceful woman – she simply forbade me to stop my schooling. She wanted me to gain the training necessary to “fight life’s battles.”

There it was when viewed from some forty-five years later, the seminal change in my life’s direction. I was not going to become a professional musician. At the time, I was totally crestfallen. My life was over – finished! This was not to be the first nor the last time that destiny’s door seemed to be firmly shut, only to later crack and emit a flicker of light.

For Hume, unfortunately, life was not so fair. He did move to the big city, but life did not deal kindly with him. He fell in with the wrong people and experienced the seamier side of the music business. Out of that milieu, he met a woman and got married. “You can do the math,” as the pundits say. When I briefly encountered him some ten years later, our paths were on such different trajectories that we had nothing in common. I was heartbroken but thankful for my mother’s obstinacy. He died at forty of alcohol and drug addiction: just sad.

Every choice that we make in life has its consequences. There is a large body of thought that suggests: “Play it safe.”4 No, we can’t play it safe. But, we must be prepared for many, many setbacks: not just one. That career that we talk so much about is elusive. It does not just fall “into your lap.” The major secret, I believe is the question, “Who is the most beautiful person that you know?” the answer, of course, is, “Yourself!”

This is not the vanity of the body, but the celebration of the spirit of self-respect. If you try and try, and try again, the universe will provide. I firmly believe this. It has provided for me. Why can’t it provide for everyone? The great Persian poet and philosopher Rumi (1207-1273) has a thought: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. … Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”

Todd Henry in his book Die Empty5 has a more contemporary thought: “Embrace the importance of now, and refuse to allow the lull of comfort, fear, familiarity, and ego to prevent you from taking action on your ambitions. The cost of inaction is vast. Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.”

23. 每次的職涯抉擇都有風險








我們在生活中做出的每一個選擇都有伴隨而來的後果。有一大堆想法都建議我們:「打安全牌。」4 不,我們不能打安全牌。我們必須為許多挫折做好準備,不僅僅是一個失敗而已。我們談論這麼多的生涯規劃,其實是難以捉摸的,它不會就出現在你的面前,而是要自己去探索。我相信主要的秘訣就在於這個問題之中:「誰是你認識的人當中最美麗的人?」而答案當然就是:「你自己!」